If you are a student at Bryant University, you either have a LinkedIn or have heard about LinkedIn enough to know that it is an important career-oriented tool. Many describe this professional social network as an online resume, but it is more than that. LinkedIn is an online portfolio of your professional successes. A portfolio can take many shapes and sizes, and so can your LinkedIn profile, making the building of a portfolio that suits your individual professional needs complicated. These five steps should begin the creation of a profile that effectively displays your career focused experience while adding a sense of your “personality” to the grey pages of LinkedIn.
Step 1. It all starts with the Head Shot:
- Recently you may have seen advertisements for free head shots for your LinkedIn profile. Capitalize on any opportunity to have a head shot taken with a high quality camera. Just as most of us pick up a book and judge it by its cover, many professionals will judge your LinkedIn profile before even clicking on it by viewing your head shot. A zoomed in picture of you on a Florida beach may work for Facebook, but make sure you are suited up or wearing attire related to your desired career in your LinkedIn profile picture.
Step 2. Your Professional Headline:
- After finding a photographer in the area to take your professional head shot, you are ready for the next step. A great way to add a sense of your personality to your profile is through the creation of a creative professional headline. Under your name on your profile there is a professional headline that you get to invent. Majority of Bryant Students simply make their headline “Bryant Student”, but if you can think of something more creative that is still professional, reflective of your personality, and catchy you are much more likely to get viewed on LinkedIn. Popular headlines claim a person’s niche and are memorable.
Step 3. Go the Extra Mile:
- Now that your professional head shot and creative headline have grabbed the attention of LinkedIn users, your profile needs to go the extra mile in displaying your talents. Bryant students typically include some of their group project work on LinkedIn, whether it be the IDEA program, a management project, or the final project created in Business 400. However, not many students go the extra mile to physically attach a sample of the work within the project, a description of the project itself, or a link to any press that supports the importance of these classes. Not everyone who will be viewing your profile knows the importance of the IDEA program, but adding a link to an article in a notable magazine or journal such as this one, which points to the Providence Business Journal and describes the IDEA program would allow for a further understanding of what you experienced. Also, a sample of your work will allow potential employers to experience your professional writing skills without asking for a cover letter.
Step 4. Post, but not too much:
- Besides just adding your professional experience to your actual profile, you may want to update your connections on awards you may have recently received, achievements, or new career related experiences by using the “Share an Update” or “Publish a Post” features on the home page of LinkedIn. You may have connected with a few professionals in the past that never clicked on your profile or thoroughly reviewed your experience, but if you receive an academic award, receive a great internship, or complete a professional project, add it to the LinkedIn timeline. Connections will be able to view this post without clicking into your profile and if the post relates to a viewer’s career field or interests them enough they may click through to see your wonderfully built LinkedIn.
Step 5. Follow Up:
- With all of the attention your profile is going to be receiving after following the previously mentioned four steps, you need to learn how to capitalize on connections and message contact. After a LinkedIn user connects with you, you may want to review their profile and message them a thank you message or a message relevant to your recent connection. This is similar to following up after a networking event. You are taking the initiative to secure a professional connection. If a LinkedIn user messages you, make sure to follow up with that user in a timely manner. Your actions on LinkedIn are a reflection of your professionalism, even when simply connecting to fellow students or messaging a recent interviewer.
These five steps will certainly increase your usage of the LinkedIn social network and advance your profile. Once you complete these five steps, make sure to continue following these guidelines. Profiles, headlines, and head shots need updating. Keep connecting and online networking. This professional social media site can open doors to new career oriented opportunities you never thought possible.